Third-quarter rally launches Dearborn Fordson past Detroit Western

Jonathan Szczepaniak
Special to The Detroit News

Dearborn — After starting 0-2, Dearborn Fordson came into the district quarterfinal game on a four-game win streak against 5-1 Western International.

A third-quarter run by Fordson that included two receiving touchdowns and an interception return for a score propelled Fordson to a 40-28 victory on Saturday.

Fordson was led by senior wide receiver Antonio Gates Jr., who finished with three touchdowns, including one on an interception return, and junior quarterback Alex Osman, who passed for two scores and ran in for another.

“This game was really a wake-up call for us to know that we really aren’t where we want to be right now,” Gates said.

Fordson's Mohamad Bazzi celebrates after making a tackle in the second quarter.

Fordson opened the game with a surprise onside kick and recovered the ball in Western territory.

Fordson was winning the battle in the trenches as senior running back Travis Boston Jr. gashed the Western defense, and he capped the first drive with a rushing touchdown.

More:Detroit News high school football scoreboard: District quarterfinals

A failed Western punt would give the ball back to Fordson in Western territory, and it continued the ground attack.

Western had no answer for Fordson's run game as senior running back Kiem Moore drove his way to the 5-yard line.

After a defensive stand brought Fordson to a fourth-and-1 at the 1-yard line, Osman scored on a quarterback sneak.

Fordson attempted to catch Western sleeping on the kickoff, but the failed onside kick went backward to the Fordson 38.

Western was unable to take control of the short field as Fordson took over on downs.

Western would possess the short field back after forcing a fumble on the Fordson quarterback keeper, and they immediately executed off the turnover.

Senior quarterback Donovan Cole put Western on the board with a rushing touchdown, and the team momentum would surge from there.

The Western defense would force another fumble and take over at its 41, and the offense answered instantly as Cole connected with senior tight end Marquis Hare for a 54-yard scoring strike.

Western would convert the two-point conversion, tying it at 14-all.

Fordson would work its way to the Western 6, but two failed passing attempts to senior tight end Muhammad Ali Hazime would result in a field goal.

Fordson came out swinging in the second half with an aerial assault led by Osman and Gates, culminating in a Gates' 57-yard touchdown catch.

Gates said his team was able to communicate during halftime and that was a big  reason behind the second-half showing.

“I think me talking to my teammates and telling them we got to tighten things up,” Gates said.

A failed two-point conversion would bring the score to 23-14, and the Fordson defense would continue the momentum.

 After a blocked punt, Osman would connect with Gates for a 24-yard touchdown.

“When we saw they had adjusted and were running one-on-one coverage with Antonio, it was the smart thing to do,” Fordson head coach Fouad Zaban said.

Gates took control of the second half on both offense and defense. On the ensuing drive, Gates intercepted a Cole pass and returned it 35 yards for a TD to increase Fordson's lead to 37-14.

After 20 unanswered points for Fordson, Mekhi Fort would take the kickoff 97yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and bring Western within 17.

Fordson tacked on a field goal and Western added a late touchdown in the final moments from a Cole throw to junior wide receiver Lamont Parks.

Fordson will face Cass Tech next week in the district semifinals.

“It’s about us. It’s about trying to clean everything up,” Zaban said.

Jonathan Szczepaniak is a freelance writer.